Made with Loving Care
Blanketing the Islands with warmth and security.
Who didn’t have a blanket—which eventually disintegrated into scraps—that they clutched when they were little? These blankets not only provide warmth, but also security, which is the concept behind Project Linus.
“The origin of Project Linus was to make blankets for terminally ill children,” says Lynne Bautista, the national nonprofit’s chapter coordinator in Hilo. The nonprofit was first established in 1995 after Karen Loucks read an article about a 3-year-old girl undergoing chemotherapy who said that her blanket helped her get through her cancer treatments. Loucks even got approval from the Charles Schulz family—the creator of the cartoon “Peanuts,” featuring Linus and his famous blue blanket—to use the name and image of Linus in coordination with the nonprofit.
Three years later, donated quilts were making their way across the Big Island by way of a high school class project. In 1998, Bautista’s daughter applied for a grant from the national nonprofit to open a chapter in Hawaii. Although she’s long since graduated and moved to the Mainland, Bautista has continued the work.
Project Linus operates through “blanketeers,” people who sew, crochet or knit blankets to donate. The only requirements are that the blankets are new, child friendly and washable. “I’m always amazed at how beautiful and ornate the blankets are,” says Kathleen Stacey, the chapter assistant and an avid crocheter for 30 years. “It’s surprising, because all these blankets are for donation and so much time and effort was put into them.”
Although many blankets are dropped off anonymously, several women regularly sew or crochet blankets for the nonprofit. Bautista adds that they’ve also had student groups donate.
The last step in the process is Bautista’s approval. “As a coordinator I make sure the blanket is OK and then sew on a blanket tag that says, ‘Made with loving care by Project Linus,’ and then give them to organizations or individuals who are in need.”
The chapter typically donates to organizations on the Big Island, such as homeless shelters, child welfare services, the Ka‘u Family Health Center and “any individual who comes to my attention,” adds Bautista. “If they’re very ill or have had a family tragedy, I’ll make sure they receive a blanket, too.”
Blankets have also been donated to children on Oahu. “When we first started, we sent a shipment of 100 blankets to Kapiolani Children’s Hospital,” says Bautista. They’ve also sent blankets to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe to a few children whose fathers were killed on deployment in Iraq. She adds that they still try to send blankets over when they are able. “We would send a lot more over if we could, but blankets are big and heavy and it’s expensive.”
Stacey adds that they are trying to recruit blanketeers on Oahu to extend Project Linus there. “We do get a lot of interest on Oahu, but we don’t have any steady contacts,” she says. “Hopefully that will change.” There originally was a branch on Oahu, but after the coordinator moved, it shut down.
In the course of four years, Project Linus Hawaii has received more than 1,700 blankets.
On average it receives 10 to 15 blankets per month. “I know that sounds like a small number, but to the child who receives that one blanket, it really makes a difference,” says Bautista.
Last month the nonprofit held a blanket drive in honor of Making a Difference Day on October 25, with three blanket-making sessions the weekends before to boost the drive’s success. All the blankets from the event went to the East Hawaii and West Hawaii Child Welfare Services in Hilo.
“Whatever the children are going through, a nice, brand-new blanket helps a little,” says Bautista. “It really keeps me going, knowing they appreciate it.”
How to Help Project Linus
If you love to sew, crochet or knit and want to donate blankets to Project Linus, or start another chapter, visit www.projectlinus.org. For more information on the Hilo chapter, contact Lynne Bautista at 808-959-0042 or email Kathleen Stacey at firstname.lastname@example.org
The drop off site for Project Linus Hawaii is at Discount Fabric Warehouse in Hilo, on 933 Kanoelehua Ave.